Squeezing herself into a frothy, flouncy, bubble-gum pink dress, Rosie Hamilton thinks that being a bridesmaid for her spoilt little sister Freya can’t get any worse.
But discovering her boyfriend in a cupboard with the bride, ten minutes before Freya is due to say ‘I do’, is the icing on the sequinned wedding cake – and Rosie’s cue to pack her bags.
Swapping her Louboutins for Wellingtons, Rosie throws her bridesmaid bouquet in the air and flies from bustling New York to sleepy Devon. Her late Aunt Bernice’s cosy countryside cottage is the only place that’s ever felt like home.
Now, for the first time in her life, and with the help of her beloved Aunt’s diaries, Rosie must put herself first for a change – and decide what she really wants…
Today, I’m delighted to be featuring yet another author I had the pleasure of “meeting” through Book Connectors, just at the point when she was getting ever so excited about the release of her debut novel. The Runaway Bridesmaid by Daisy James was published for Kindle by Carina UK on 28th September. My thoughts on the book follow, but first I’m delighted to welcome Daisy to Being Anne…
Welcome to Being Anne! Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
Thanks for having me, Anne. Well, I’m Daisy James and I write contemporary romance. I’m originally from Yorkshire (still have my lovely Yorkshire accent!) but now I live with my family in the north east. The rest of my family live in North Wales. When I’m not scribbling away in my summerhouse (garden shed), I like nothing more than sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. I love spending spare time with friends – especially indulging in afternoon tea – china cups and saucers are a must!
So, the first novel – tell me more about it. Has it been a long time in the making?
The inspiration for The Runaway Bridesmaid came when we were stranded in New York when Hurricane Sandy hit. We had an unscheduled extra six days there. Nothing was open so I started to scribble in my notebook – just the outline of a story that started out there and moved on to England, Devon to be precise. It took about six months to complete and then just as long to edit – so all in all about three years until it became The Runaway Bridesmaid.
How does it feel, being on the brink of publication?
I am really excited yet also a little nervous. But everyone has been so kind and supportive. I’m planning to crack open a bottle of pink Prosecco on the 28th September to mark the occasion in style.
And you write in your garden shed – sorry, summer house! Tell me about your writing day…
*Laughs* Yes, we have a peppermint and cream shed in our back garden. It’s tiny but it’s quiet. There’s always something going on in the kitchen where I try to work so I’ve moved into the shed….sorry, summerhouse. But it gets cold from about October so I’ll be back at the kitchen table with my ear muffs firmly on.
The cover of the book is simply gorgeous – did you have much input, or was it the lovely people at Carina?
Thanks, yes it’s gorgeous isn’t it? I had a tiny bit of input (hair colour!) but otherwise the design team did a fabulous job!
And the baking – are you really good, or just enthusiastic?
I’m more of a hobby baker. And no, not everything turns out as planned but there are always willing testers in the house! There are lots of recipes in The Runaway Bridesmaid all of which had to be tested and the final product eaten. I think it was a relief when I’d finished the first draft!!! I don’t think our waistlines could have taken any more.
What writers do you admire? If someone said “her writing reminds me of…”, what comparison would give you the most pleasure?
I enjoy reading lots of different genres. My favourite genre is travel memoir. I love reading about writers who have given up their routine to make a home elsewhere in the world. I’ve just finished reading Annie Hawes Extra Virgin – loved it! But I also enjoyed Sarah MacDonald’s Holy Cow about her trip around India. I’d love to say Diane Setterfield – but I couldn’t compare myself to her.
I notice your biography says you’re a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England, but I know that you have Welsh connections like me. Where is “home”?
Yes, I’m a true Yorkshire girl. I grew up in North Yorkshire – near Easingwold. But now I’m an adopted Geordie – although I’ve never mastered the accent! My family live in a tiny village on the North Wales coast. They relocated there when I moved north and love it. My nephews and nieces speak fluent welsh – they love teasing me as I don’t understand a word!
And what’s next? Are you already writing?
I have a second book coming out with CarinaUK which I’m excited about because it’s set in a village in North Yorkshire and features the gorgeous Harewood House. And yes, I’m busy writing my next story.
My thoughts on The Runaway Bridesmaid
Those of you who read my reviews regularly will know that my taste in books is… well, I think the right word is “eclectic”. There are times when I crave an edge-of-the-seat thriller, times when I like to be challenged, or moved, or shocked. But when it’s wet and a bit miserable, and I have a streaming cold and a sore throat and my head’s aching, only the warm cuddle of a chick lit book will do.
I must say – with big apologies to Daisy – that I actually wasn’t at all keen on this book at the start. I couldn’t take to Rosie at all – she’s supposed to be American, but everything about her came across as very English, as did her family, and she certainly didn’t impress me as a corporate high-flyer. But from the moment that she picked up the skirts of her pink bridesmaid dress and ran, she slowly but surely won me over. By halfway through – once she’d taken off her Louboutins and got her hands dirty in her aunt’s garden and burned a few cakes, I rather liked her. By the end, I loved her – and the book was a really good read.
I really enjoyed the story – the Devon setting, the two very different men who provided the love interest (Charlie is particularly gorgeous…), the supporting characters, the sorting out of the garden, the beautifully described cookery book and Rosie’s attempts to recreate the recipes. The author writes beautiful descriptions (Aunt Bernice’s cottage and its garden were real to me), and the dialogue sparkles with perfectly judged humour. OK, maybe the ending was a little predictable – but I thought it was quite perfect. The recipes at the end of the book were a lovely touch too.
It was a lovely book to escape into for a couple of days – maybe not quite perfect because of that beginning, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what Daisy does next.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Carina for my advance reading e-copy.
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. Her husband and young son were willing samplers of her baking creations which were triple-tested for her debut novel, The Runaway Bridesmaid. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter, especially if they have given any of the recipes in her book a whirl… photos are very welcome.